MADISON, Wis. — UW-Madison says claims shared on social media, as well as by conservative commentator Dana Loesch, regarding antisemitic protests on campus were "significantly exaggerated."
On Tuesday, Loesch shared on X (formerly Twitter) text messages claiming a UW-Madison student was facing antisemitic abuse while trying to enter UW Hillel, UW-Madison's Jewish student center. The messages claim protestors cut an Israeli flag and stomped on it, and yelled obscenities about Jewish people through a megaphone, WISC reports. The student alleged she had to be escorted inside the center by police.
Loesch, who has 1.2 million followers on X, did not clarify when the event occurred. However, UW-Madison officials say the protest happened last week.
In a statement shared Tuesday afternoon, university officials say the allegations are "significantly exaggerated" and that the protest was peaceful.
"Contrary to social media posts, no violence occurred, nor were any direct threats expressed, and a flag was not cut," the statement reads in part. "Madison Police responded to a call from Hillel for assistance. In addition, UWPD was present to ensure safety. Out of an abundance of caution, and at the request of some concerned students, UWPD did escort several students into Hillel during last week’s protest. We recognize how this could also serve to heighten fear and anxiety that our students are experiencing."
UW-Madison's X account also shared a post by UW Foundation board of directors member Rick Sandler who said Loesch's claims were false. Sandler said in part, "The protests made students uncomfortable but based on multiple eyewitness accounts those outrageous chants didn’t happen. No flag was cut. Wildly exaggerated accounts are their own kind of virus."
Urging caution re: veracity of certain social media posts. We are committed to campus safety and will not tolerate violence or direct threats. There is zero tolerance for antisemitism or Islamophobia on our campus. https://t.co/SMvrfmXP7Q— UW–Madison (@UWMadison) October 31, 2023
Campus officials continued to "urge caution and advise a critical eye during this time of heightened tensions to take care in how we view, respond to, and share content on social media."